NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Family members of the late Waldo H. and Linda L. (Zielke) Friesen have established in their memory a Global Ministries Internship Endowment at Bethel College in cooperation with Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Church USA. The goal of the endowment at the North Newton college is to encourage young people to develop a commitment to the global peace and justice ministry of the Mennonite church. An initial Friesen gift in the amount of $38,000 will fund an internship program to place students in ministry settings in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Mexico and the Middle East.
Waldo and Linda Friesen were involved in the Mennonite church all their lives. For many years they were active in First Mennonite Church, Aberdeen, Idaho, where Waldo served as deacon and Linda taught Sunday school. They were active in the Pacific District Conference and the General Conference Mennonite Church and, for many years, attended almost every meeting of these church bodies. They were especially committed to the peace witness of the church beyond North America.
The Friesens met in 1931 when they both sang at a community Messiah production at Bethel College. Waldo attended Bethel College and taught in public schools in Kansas for 10 years. They moved to Idaho in 1943 where they farmed for 20 years. After retiring from farming, both were employed in the Aberdeen public schools. They retired to North Newton in 1976. Waldo died in 1989 and Linda in 2001.
The Friesens’ two sons, Duane and Larry, are both Bethel College graduates and on the faculty at Bethel College. Duane is professor of Bible and religion; Larry is professor of social work. They created the endowment in memory of their parents who passed on to them a vision of the church’s active ministry of peace and justice. Waldo and Linda’s three grandchildren-Anne Friesen Birky, Sara Friesen-Guhr and Katy June-Friesen-are all graduates of Bethel College and share this commitment of their grandparents.
The endowment will help to fund internships for two students each year while also partially supporting the work of the agency that develops the internship. Both Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Church USA will partner with Bethel College in placing students in international settings. Students from various fields of study and with interest in exploring the peace and justice ministry of the church in a cross-cultural setting will be accepted for the internship.
"We are grateful for Waldo and Linda Friesen’s many contributions to Bethel College," says E. LaVerne Epp, president of Bethel College. "This endowment gift in their memory will create opportunities for our students to develop significant leadership in the church’s peace and justice ministry. The Friesens’ greatest contribution, especially meaningful to those who relate to Bethel College, is the human legacy which they have established in their ongoing support of this college and the church through their children and grandchildren."